Three Windhoek City Police officers who were convicted of the murder of 17-year-old Mandela Ramakhutla in April 2013 were slapped with a 10-year effective jail term each by Windhoek High Court Judge Dinnah Usiku yesterday.
Judge Usiku sentenced Werner Johannes Shetekela (36), Kleopas Shiikalepo Kapalanga (33) and Elia Nakale (39) to 14 years behind bars on the murder conviction and 12 months on the defeating the course of justice conviction.
She, however, ordered that four years of the murder sentence be suspended for five years on condition that the convicts are not convicted of the crime of murder during the period of suspension.
The judge also ordered that the sentence on the defeating conviction run concurrently with the murder sentence.
The charges emanated from an assault the officers perpetrated on Ramakhutla while he was in their custody during the evening of 16 April 2013 after they picked him up on suspicion of having stolen a laptop at the City of Windhoek head office.
They apparently saw him on CCTV dawdling in the office building during that day.
During the conviction judgement, Usiku made reference to the fact that the three cops hurriedly left the Windhoek Police Station after they dumped him there to hide the fact that they assaulted him.
She said the conduct to dump a seriously injured minor suspect, at the police station, instead of taking him for immediate medical attention, calls for a custodial sentence. “Their conduct can only be described as grossly inhumane,” she declared.
She further said that it would be a travesty of justice if the accused persons, who have some fine credentials, should escape incarceration for that reason only.
She made reference to the fact that they are first offenders and productive citizens with distinguished careers in the City Police.
However, the judge said, law enforcement officials equally have a duty to respect the human rights of all persons, without discrimination.
“There is yet another principle, which is accountability, requiring that individual law enforcement officers, like any other person, must be held responsible for any failure to comply with the law,” the judge said. “When one looks at the manner in which the deceased was assaulted all over his body evidenced by the post-mortem examination report, it makes one wonder whether these accused persons are worthy to have been officers of law enforcement.”
According to Judge Usiku, the accused did not show any remorse in this matter.
Instead, she said, all of them candidly denied killing the deceased and each was more concerned about their wellbeing and that of their dependents that the death of the deceased became secondary.
She further said while the killing of the deceased was not premediated in that the accused did not set out hunting for the deceased in order to kill him, they are nonetheless guilty of a serious crime and justice demands that they must pay for their evil
deed. After sentencing, the defence lawyers all indicated that they will seek leave to appeal both the conviction and the sentence and asked the court to extend the bail of the accused pending the bail application.
The State, however, through Salomon Kanyemba, standing in for Cliff Lutibezi, opposed this and asked that the accused be remanded pending their bail hearing. The judge agreed and cancelled their bail.
Shetekela was represented by Boris Isaacks, Kapalanga by Willem Visser and Nakale by Kadhila Amoomo. – firstname.lastname@example.org